Caucus on Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry
May 19, 2013 2:30 PM San Francisco, CA
Members Present: Peter Fenwick, Marc Galanter, James Griffith, George Harding, Alan Hines, Jim Lomax, Ann Massion, Lila Massoumi, Alexander Moreida-Almeida, Abraham Nussbaum, Nadine Nyhus, Naftali Ortiz, John Peteet, Walid Sarah, Hernan Schmidt, Rose Bracey (APA staff)
After brief introductions of the 15 members present and Rosa Bracey, APA Staff Liaison, the Caucus reviewed and approved the minutes of the October 13, 2012 meeting in New York City.
John Peteet then described the workshop and symposium proposals which have been sponsored by the Caucus in the past year, including “Implications of Spiritual Experiences and to the Understanding of Mind-Body Relationship”, chaired by Alexander Moreida-Almeida, M.D., Ph.D. (accepted for the 2013 APA Annual Meeting); “Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry: Educational Challenges and Opportunities”, chaired by John Peteet, M.D. (accepted for the 2013 IPS Meeting); and “Advancing the Science of Spirituality/Religion and Mental Health”, chaired by David Rosemarin, Ph.D. (rejected for the 2013 APA Annual Meeting). In response to a question about the decision of the Scientific Program Committee regarding this proposal, Rosa Bracey agreed to identify an individual representing the Committee whom we can ask for any constructive feedback available.
Using ballots submitted to Rosa Bracey, members present voted without exception for the slate of officers nominated by the October, 2012 meeting of the Caucus, as well as for Alan Fung, M.D. who recently volunteered to serve as a Representative at Large. The Executive Committee now consists of
President John Peteet, M.D.
Vice-President Dr. Walid Sarhan F.R.C.Psych.
Secretary/Treasurer Mary Lynn Dell, M.D.
Newsletter/Website Editor Steve Mory, M.D.
John Peteet noted that Dr. Galanter gave a thought-provoking and very well attended Oskar Pfister Award Lecture earlier in the day, reviewed the status of the funding for the Award, and reminded members to submit nominations to Francis Lu, M.D.
Most of the remainder of the meeting was devoted to active discussion of issues important in pursuing future directions as a Caucus. Peter Fenwick, representing the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the U.K., began by describing the growth of this group from 20 members in 20oo to its current 3,000 participant psychiatrists, who support a newsletter, and 2-3 meetings a year at which scholarly presentations are given and made available to members on line. He encouraged members of the Caucus to view its webpage: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/college/specialinterestgroups/spirituality.aspx
With regard to the issue of effective communication, there was agreement on the need for the APA website to clearly lead an inquirer to the Caucus’s online site, and if possible to have its content available on the APA website itself. Rosa Bracey will explore the feasibility of these options. While recognizing the challenge of meeting regularly in a larger country than the UK, members recognized the importance of having enough time for the Caucus to do its work, and suggested that meetings at the APA and IPS meetings be scheduled for 1.5 to 2 hours. Lila Massoumi, with the APA Caucus on Integrative Medicine, will let John Peteet know of free webinar resources which can make it more feasible for the Executive Committee to conduct regular meetings throughout the year. Peter Verhagen, Steve Morey and Alan Fung have expressed interest in exploring the publication of a newsletter as an additional vehicle of communication both within the membership and more broadly to interested others.
Several suggestions emerged regarding the content of the Caucus’s presentations and communications: Jim Lomax encouraged posting announcements of upcoming events such as those hosted by the program he directs at Baylor; Abraham Nussbaum mentioned both the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago and a conference being planned for February, 2014 on the history of Christian care for the mentally ill. Marc Galanter discussed the value of posting research, review articles, reading lists, and course materials. James Griffith noted the importance of identifying and publishing best practices in with respect to teaching and assessing spiritual and existential dimensions of care, such as evidence based ways of encouraging hope and of mobilizing patients’ resources being developed at George Washington University. These could be useful in shaping Milestones and means of assessing trainee competencies, due to be revised next in five years. Finally, members expressed interest in developing topics for presentations which could have broad interest, such as those at the interface with philosophy, law, neuroscience and integrative medicine, and were encouraged to explore specific ideas for proposals for the upcoming meeting.